France suffer humiliating defeat

Paris, September 7:

France, the 1998 world champions, suffered an embarrassing 3-1 defeat to lowly Austria on Saturday to endure a nightmare start to their 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign.

Defending champions Italy needed a last-minute goal to beat Cyprus 2-1 while England could only defeat little Andorra 2-0.

European champions Spain managed a 1-0 win over Bosnia-Herzegovina, Germany demolished Liechtenstein 6-0 while 2006 WC semi-finalists Portugal saw off Malta 4-0.

After a dismal Euro 2008 finals, where they failed to get out of the group stages, France again hit the rocks with a Group 7 loss. Goals by Marc Janko and Rene Aufhauser before the break put the hosts firmly in front but Sidney Govou got one back for France on the hour mark. A penalty by Andreas Ivanschitz in the 72nd sealed France’s fate.

Defending champions Italy needed a last-minute goal to eke out a 2-1 victory against Cyprus in Group 8.

Antonio Di Natale secured three points after Cyprus had ran Italy ragged at times. In the same group, the Republic of Ireland beat Georgia 2-1.